In May 2018, I met the female who, in all likelihood, is a scammer. Or maybe she is just someone with her hand out. Anyway, from the time time we met, we talked regularly. From the jump, she asked for money. Claims that she was using her aunt's phone to chat with me. She had a phone, but it ran on a subscription. And once that ran out, it had to be renewed, or else, the phone was as useless as a pile of sticks. She couldn't get online and whatnot. I shook my head at first. I had never heard of such a thing. But, I figured, just because I had never heard of it, didn't mean that that could not be the case. So, I bit. After a day or two,I reached out to her, (on presumably her aunt's phone) and asked her what it would take for her to renew her subscription. A $50 iTunes card, she said. Get the card, take pics of the front and back of the card, and a pic of the receipt and send them to her. So, I did just that. And then she was able to talk to me on a much more frequent basis until that subscription ran out. And then, I just did it again. Another iTunes card. Rinse and repeat. Needing money from me came up from time to time. She needed new shoes. She got sick and needed medication. Her phone quit functioning and needed to be repaired. This time it was Amazon cards that would do the trick. So, I'd go purchase an Amazon card, take pics of the front and back of the card (with the code, of course) and the receipt.
One day, I stopped myself. I said "dude, what on earth are you doing? This chick is taking your dumb butt for a ride". But, you know what? I did it anyway. It's like, I couldn't NOT do it. I figured, well shoot, she provides me with companionship (albeit virtual) and I help her whenever possible. I did get curious and ask how in the world she could take pictures of gift cards that I sent her and turn that into money or buy medications or new shoes or pay to have her phone fixed. She told me that people do that all the time. It's a way to get money when in a pinch. I thought that was weird. After all, I had never heard of it. But, there again, me never having heard of it didn't necessarily mean anything. One day, a friend finds some of the Amazon cards I had gotten for her over time and figures it out in about 2 seconds. He asks if I am being asked to do this by some female I met online. I say yes. I say "I am being played like a violin, right?" and he says "yeah...duhh". So then he proceeds to ask a series of questions which actually do NOT apply to my situation. Is she in the military? No. Is she an engineer? No. Is she in a foreign country? Again, no. Is she an American who is working overseas? No, no, and no. He says "hmm...well, those are the earmarkings of a scam, and yet, she is none of those things?" and I said "no. She is just a female, early 30's, living in Warrington, Pennsylvania. She has no job and is living with her aunt. Or, so, this is what she tells me". Well, by then, he is confused, seeing as how she is not claiming to be in the military, an engineer working overseas, trapped in some foreign country, etc.
I said " I think she is just someone with her hand out. Maybe she isn't a scammer, per se, but more like just lazy and wanting a guy (me) to send her money to placate her". He said "well, still, it isn't your job to pay for what she needs. And no, it is not worth it, just to have companionship, virtual companionship at that". And he was right. It was just that, starting to do something like this (sending someone money, in this case, gift card pics) is EASY to do. Stopping it? Oh, wow. That's the hard part. Because, scammer or not, she has a VERY convincing way about her. VERY. Well, time goes on and one day, she says "hey guess what?? Great news! I have a chance to make some money in Arizona. She did tell me earlier on that she did paintings. She sent me pics of them. Did SHE really paint them? Well, that's debatable. Anyway, selling paintings was what the big opportunity in Arizona was all about. All she needed was the ticket to get there and then she would take care of the rest. So again, off I go, this time to get her an eBay card, which she can somehow turn into dollars and then be in Arizona the next day.
She goes to Arizona. She thanked me and said that without me, she would not be there, in Arizona, doing these paintings and making bank. To test her, I asked what time it was in Arizona, and she gave me the correct time without hesitation. Whether or not that proved anything was another story. I would also test her from time to time and ask fast questions with regards to the time and how was the weather in Warrington, PA and she was always correct. She never hesitated. Anyway, everything is going great, she tells me, but she needs something from me. My username and password for my online banking! In the year and a half that we knew one another, she had NEVER asked for anything like that before! I was shaken to my core. We clashed big time over that one and I asked her if she thought that such a thing was even plausible and she said "good grief! All I need is a place to send this money that I am being paid for my paintings!" Granted, I had been stupid up until now, getting her gift cards, but I was NOT about to giver her my username and password which would let her in and have access to my bank accounts! Even I knew where to draw the line. Well, she was ticked off. She told me she wasn't speaking to me ever again because without the use of my bank account, she could not get paid, as there was NO other way. I had just cost her $2,000 she said.
But, that wasn't the case. She messaged me again later on that night to explain why she was so upset, but to say that she understood me being reluctant to give out such sensitive information. Imagine that.
Anyway, so she gets a new idea. A better idea. She says "instead of using your account to receive this money, why don't you just set me up a new one. She just needed an account to transfer this money to because without an account, she does NOT get paid and that was all there was to it. But, here was the thing. It HAD to be in my name. It could NOT be in her name at all! Oh my goodness. Whether she was a scammer all along or just someone with her hand out, one thing is for certain. She is up to something now. Sounds like a fake check scam to me. She transfers money to my account (fake check or fake money transfer) has me get it to her in another form (probably gift cards again) and then, when the bank realizes that this was fake, I am the one on the hook. I would not only owe the bank for the money that was never there, but I would likely face criminal charges for doing the equivalent of passing a bad check, or participating in some sort of money laundering. I am not going to do ANY of that. Sure, I got her gift cards over time, which was dumb, but this I just CAN NOT and WILL NOT do! My freedom could be at stake if I did such a thing. While she never had the usual traits of a scammer( in the military, engineer working overseas, etc) and seemed to be just a lazy individual wanting someone else to pay her way for everything, it seems like she has possibly moved over into actual scamming now. Or, maybe she was a scammer all along and just wasn't using the usual backstories that scammers use. Anyway, I am just demoralized. I kept on doing for her, even though I KNEW that at the very least I was being taken advantage of, and at worst, I was being scammed and led down the yellow brick road.
But I can't do this anymore. She appears to be done with me, as she appears to be moving into something much bigger than gift cards. And she sees now that I have drawn the line. How was I so stupid? And what is it that makes it hard to stop sending someone money (gift cards) to someone that you don't even know? At least it's over now. Thanks for reading.